Downton Abbey and fine wines

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In my early days in the wine trade (far too many years ago) I was responsible for “Delivery Enquiries” (= van driver).

Among the company’s clients was the 7th Earl of Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle, well-known as the fictional setting of the historical drama series Downton Abbey.

So I can claim that I used to deliver wine to Downton Abbey.

Never having seen Downton Abbey – because I have not owned a television for over 20 years – I was told that there were wine references in the programmes.

Downton Abbey’s creator and co-writer Julian Fellowes is known to be a wine enthusiast.

When interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in November 2011 he was asked – as all Desert Island Discs guests are – what would be their luxury good of choice to take with them to a desert island. Fellowes’ answer was: “Two enormous casks of Château Margaux”.

Château Margaux is featured in Episode 9 of Downton Abbey’s season 5 when Mr Carson (played by Jim Carter) offers his friend Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) some wine leftover in a decanter.

“They didn’t finish this and they are away tomorrow, so I thought we might”, he says. “It’s a favourite of mine… You won’t go far wrong with a Margaux.”

Château Chasse-Spleen is also referenced in season 6-episode 6 of Downton Abbey.

Robert Crawley, 7th Earl of Grantham and owner of Downton Abbey (played by Hugh Bonneville), is recovering from ulcer surgery.

Mr Carson sneaks a decanter of Chasse-Spleen to the bed-ridden Earl, who exclaims: “Crumbs. That looks frightening.”

Carson says: “It’s, uh, a little Château Chasse-Spleen, my Lord.”

Chasse-Spleen’s name means “dispels melancholy” (in a stiff English translation) or (in a more contemporary style) “chases away the blues”.

The perfect wine for a bed-ridden (locked-down?) Earl.

Stay safe, well, and healthy.

Stuart George | Founder & MD | Arden Fine Wines

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